In 1986, my young family and I were living in Brussels, Belgium. I worked for a large company and had a successful career. After three years, we decided to return to the United States to carry on my work and to be closer to our extended family. Even though I was doing well with the company, I made the decision to leave and to start my own consulting firm. It was a little bit of a risk. We had four children. We were coming out of a recession and my job was going well with the company I had been with.
But I wanted to be independent and I wanted the chance to have a greater income. Amid starting my own firm, a friend offered me an opportunity to work for him part-time in his small manufacturing company. He was a member of the Church and someone I considered to be an honest man even though he had become less active. After a short period of time, he offered me the opportunity to become part owner of the business. He told me he had a potential buyer and thought he could sell the company for much more than he had paid for it. I saw an opportunity to pursue a key reason for leaving my previous employer. Here was an opportunity to make a lot of money in a short period of time.
I wrote him a check using most of our life savings. About two weeks later, he came to me and said he had a problem. He had fired the president of the company. And, personally, he had run out of money and was considering filing for bankruptcy. I quickly realized all my hard-earned money was gone. And then he asked me to replace the president he had fired. The problem was the company was deep in debt and there was no money for the upcoming payroll.
My initial reaction was disbelief. How could this happen? I was a full tithe payer and a worthy priesthood holder. Also, how could this man, who knew he was in deep financial trouble, take my check for my life savings? It was a difficult time. I recognized it as such. I had to ask myself a hard question. How would I resolve the situation and deal with the hard feelings I was having? Would I become angry at my friend for misleading me? Would I be upset with the Lord for not protecting me? Or would I realize that perhaps I had chosen poorly and that I, alone, was to blame. No one had made me make any of the poor decisions I had made.
Fortunately, I chose not to turn to the worldly approach with resentment, anger, and frustration, but instead turned to the Lord for counsel and comfort. I accepted responsibility. I asked my ministering brothers for a priesthood blessing. I kept a soft heart towards this friend and less active brother in the gospel. I even tried to help him turn his company around. I never did get my money back, but I did maintain a positive relationship with him. Sometime later, I was called to be the bishop. And who should be in my ward? This same brother. I was so grateful that I had chosen to accept responsibility for my poor decisions and to turn to the Lord for help.
Fortunately, I was able to create a successful consulting business, successful enough so that after several years of hard work, I was able to pay off our home mortgage and to put aside some savings. At that time, I realized, thanks to my wife’s suggestion, I could work a little less and spend more time helping with our most important responsibility: our children. The month after making the last payment on our home mortgage I received a call from Salt Lake. That led to our receiving a mission call to preside over the Switzerland Geneva Mission. How grateful I was to have chosen to turn to the Lord during that previously very difficult period of my life. Though I had planned to spend more time with my family, we were grateful to show the Lord our willingness to keep the covenants we had made with Him—to let Him prevail in our lives.
Sometime after our mission, we felt prompted by the Spirit to leave our home in Minnesota and to move to Utah. There, I started a new business with two of my friends. We decided to buy some land to develop into lots for homes that we could sell. It had been an excellent real estate market. We were quite happy with how the business was going. But it was short lived. The great recession came. Land values crashed. We were in debt and I had no good way to resolve the situation except to go back to my old field of consulting. It was not a good time as the whole economy was in deep trouble.
I was not sure what to do. But I had learned in my life that I could turn to my Heavenly Father for guidance, no matter what the situation might be. Not long after, an opportunity came to me to move to Abu Dhabi in the Middle East. I did not want to move there, but it seemed that it was the only way out of my current difficulties. We took the opportunity and left Utah. Just before departing, I was called to be an Area Seventy in the Middle East. Once again, though I did not understand at first, I was grateful to have kept trusting the Lord—to let Him prevail in our lives.
After almost five years of work and service and nearing retirement age, we were in a good position to transition to the next phase of our life and to enjoy our growing family. Within a few weeks of returning from the Middle East, looking forward to spending more time with our children and grandchildren, I received yet another phone call from Church headquarters. This time It was to serve our Savior in full-time service.
Once again, I learned that the Lord will lead us if we let Him. The Lord taught the leaders of the Church in the early days of the Restoration, “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers” (D&C 112:10). I have learned for myself how true this is.
We each have our own experiences. I have shared just a few of mine. The key for each of us is to learn from what life brings us and to always know which way we will turn for help. We only need to make that decision once. Then, no matter what happens, we will have already decided to always turn to the Lord. And, by so doing, things will work out. When Joseph Smith was going through a very difficult time the Lord said to him, “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).
We may wonder sometimes why things do not turn out how we think they should. At these times it is good to remember what Isaiah said: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).
In the October 2020 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson taught us that one of the Hebraic meanings of the word Israel is “let God prevail.” Using that definition of Israel, President Nelson went on to teach us the following:
“We all have our agency. . . . We can choose to let God prevail in our lives, or not. We can choose to let God be the most powerful influence in our lives, or not. . . .
“When your greatest desire is to let God prevail . . . so many decisions become easier. So many issues become non-issues! . . .
“It takes both faith and courage to let God prevail. It takes persistent, rigorous spiritual work to repent and to put off the natural man through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”1
It is my hope that we will always turn to the Lord in all we do and let God prevail in our lives. Then things will work out, not as always as we want them, but in a way that will give us experience for our eternal good. They will work out the way they should. The way the Lord would want for us. For we are His children.